Are New Year’s Resolutions helpful?

2022… the year of promise! So much to be thankful for and so much still yet to happen before we can breathe easily. For many of us, the New Year heralds a chance to take stock and think about what changes we can make in our daily lives. Rather than setting goals that have fallen by the wayside before the month is out, we wanted to think about three steps to help your children’s thinking and mental well-being.

As a parent or teacher, last year might have started with a blur as schools opened for one day and then the doors were firmly closed and learning was moved online. Thankfully this year, the potential gloom and doom with regards to school has been postponed. Lots of schools are struggling with high-rate of infections and absence amongst staff, but this has not stopped them keeping their doors open. In contrast, over the pond, schools across some of the larger cities in the US are closed. Schools in places like Chicago, New York and Atlanta have all switched to remote learning.

For children, whether they are in or out of school, the importance of teaching them how to take ownership of their own learning is not to be underestimated. Our Big Picture puts the child at the centre of everything: by teaching them about the infinite capacity of their memory, developing their motivation and what to do when they are stuck is our starting point.

Developing a child as an independent thinker with a love of learning and gaining successful entry into their senior school is our exciting mission at Meta Prep. We are here to develop meta-learners who are ready to thrive at school and beyond. 

Banishing a long list of challenges this year was our first step. Instead, a few small tweaks can be helpful to draw out deeper thinking. So enjoy trying out our three metacognitive resolutions to help you at home.

Our New Year’s Metacognitive Resolutions:

  1. Building motivation. One of the great resources we use is Project Zero’s Thinking Routines. They offer simple two or three step routines to encourage deeper thinking. The one I would recommend to build motivation is See-Think-Wonder. This routine encourages children to make careful observations and thoughtful interpretations. It helps stimulate curiosity and sets the stage for inquiry. First begin by simply spending a few minutes asking your child to examine the material or image and noting what stands out to them. It really helps them slow down and really focus on what’s in front of them. I think it is a great chance to fully start engaging with the topic.
    1. What do you see?
    2. What do you think about that?
    3. What does it make you wonder?
  1. Connecting ideas. Building new knowledge demands activity in the frontal working memory regions of the brain. In order to move content from working memory to long-term memory we need to be able to connect content with prior knowledge. By asking: which parts or terms are new to me, and which parts do I recognise? Allows connections to be made and gaps in knowledge to be teased out.
  1. Meaning and Purpose. When we routinely encourage children to think about why a new concept or skill is important to learn, or how it links to the real world, it helps them make personal connections with the material. Children love the opportunity to assess its merits and “add their own spin”.  We often ask: why is this idea important? It allows for a chance for children to see the big picture and come to a conclusion on their own.

At Meta Prep, our spring term Year 4 metacognitive course focuses on metacognitive skills and imbeds those neural pathways with the pupil at the centre of everything we do. In Year 5, these metacognitive skills can be easily called upon to aid when learning the key maths, English and reasoning skills needed for success in the 11+ exams. When these metacognitive skills are continually practised, the pathways become neural highways and information easy to access. It sets you up for a lifetime of deep learning.